Memories from the Press Box: Dick Gaskill

Sept. 24, 2009

At the conclusion of the 2009 football season, the existing press box, which dates to the 1950s, will be torn down. Over the last several decades, countless memorable moments have been witnessed from the nerve center of the stadium.

In honor of this last season with the proud, old press box, an on-going feature called "Memories From the Press Box" will run on and in each U-M football game program. Written by the individuals who witnessed these moments from above, "Memories" will offer a different perspective of the events many of us remember after seeing them in person or watching them on TV. In some cases, it's describing pre-game rituals, in many cases, it's a specific game or play that took their breath away. Sportscasters, former coaches, athletic department staff, University President Mary Sue Coleman, they are but a few of the contributors who will be featured weekly. We hope you enjoy it!

An Explosive Memory of the 1969 Michigan/Ohio State Game
Dick Gaskill, Michigan Marching Band Photographer

I have memories from each game, but one I recall was in 1969, the first year for head coach Bo Schembechler. It was the famous game against Ohio State in which they said the Buckeyes had one of the all-time greatest teams ever assembled. Ohio State had not lost a game in over two seasons I think. Bo got his guys so fired up that Michigan managed one of their greatest wins 24-12.

During halftime of that game, the band put on a spirited show which ended with an explosion at midfield. It turned out to be a bit more than expected with an enormous blast scattering the entire band and putting quite a large hole in the new carpet at Michigan stadium. It was right on the M.

Needless to say this did not thrill Athletic Director Don Canham in any way, shape or form. Dr. Revelli received a phone call from Don and was told in no uncertain terms never to do anything like that again. In this shot, which I took, you can even see smoke around Dr. Revelli on the ladder. I don't recall what that was all about. Maybe the blast was set off by radio control over in that area.

There are many more very interesting and exciting events in the Big House as seen from the Photo Deck which I will never forget. It all started when brother Tom, who played clarinet in the marching band, introduced me to Dr. Revelli. He asked him if he would like me to take some photos for the band as they did not have a photographer at that time. Dr. Revelli agreed. When I stood up there on the press level and first saw the great Michigan band come on the field from the tunnel at 230 steps a minute and snap into the M and then march up and down the field playing the greatest fight song ever written, I just knew I had to continue doing this. Fifty-four seasons later I have only missed one home game and that was because our first son decided to get married on a football Saturday and I thought that just maybe I should go to that.

I have the record of the longest stint in a marching band without playing a note or marching a step. Along the way, the band surprised me and spelled my name out on the field. What an honor.

We also have a family brick over at the Stadium and would you believe it? It is right next to Dr. Revelli. My life is complete.

Dick Gaskill has been a Michigan Marching Band photographer since 1960, but has taken photos of the band since 1953 as a student with The Michigan Daily. While he has occasionally shot from the field, he primarily shoots from the press box photo deck to capture the formations. He has been with the band throughout the existence of the current press box and has over 87,000 negatives of band activities and well over one million prints. He also has upwards of 22,000 digital files since 2001.

Past Memories from the Press Box: Jim Meyer (9/17/09) | Frank Beckmann (9/10/2009) | John Borton (9/3/2009)

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